The UK’s fraud cops quietly dropped two long-running investigations into iron-ore giant Rio Tinto and Kazakh miner Eurasian Natural Resources Corp (ENRC). without bringing any charges, in another setback for the agency that’s committed significant resources to prosecuting corruption in the commodities sector.
The Serious Fraud Office said it had closed the 2017 Rio Tinto investigation over allegations of corruption in Guinea after an internal review found it was not in the public interest to continue, according to an update on its website Thursday. No charges against individuals had been made.
The SFO, which both prosecutes and investigates the most serious white-collar crime in Britain, has a long list of recent missteps in the last few years. It has been accused of botching investigations, seen trials collapse, and a government-requested review that found the SFO’s failure in its Unaoil bribery case were caused by “cultural issues” in the agency.
“We review all our cases on an ongoing basis to help us deliver justice for victims and value to the public,” the SFO said in the update. “We concluded that it is not in the public interest to proceed with a prosecution in the UK and closed our case.” The Australian Federal Police’s investigation into the case remains ongoing.
Separately, the SFO also announced it had closed a 10-year criminal investigation into ENRC citing “insufficient admissible evidence to prosecute.”
The probe, one of the prosecutor’s longest, has been mired in controversy and allegations of reckless investigations against the SFO. It had focused on suspected bribe payments to secure mining contracts in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 2009 and 2012.